Minasyan Comments on Ruling Coalition’s Change of Mind on Gas Accord Committee

(arminfo.am) – ARFD Party Faction in the Armenian Parliament supports the ruling coalition’s initiative to set up an ad hoc committee to study gas problems, ARFD representative Artsvik Minasyan told ArmInfo.

He said that the coalition-suggested project resembles the one ARFD submitted yet in 2010 but contains some more issues connected with the latest sale of the Government’s share in ArmRusgasprom to Gazprom, Russia.

At the same time, Minasyan was bewildered as earlier the parliament majority rejected the similar project suggested by 4 factions of the ARFD, ANC, Prosperous Armenia and Heritage parties.

“It has become something usual for the authorities to reject the opposition’s suggestions and then make similar ones. Nevertheless, we care for settlement of the gas problems rather than our copyright,” he said. Artak Zurabyan, a representative of the Republican Party of Armenia, in turn, claims that the Republican’s stance on an ad hoc committee on the gas issue has not changed.

“We have always been ready to study the gas issue in any format. However, we had to reject the initiative by the 4 factions to prevent speculations on the topic by the coalition,” he said. The latest gas agreement with Russia under which 100% shares of ArmRusgasprom were transferred to Russia has sparked public in Armenia.

Parliament Probe Of Gas Accord Back On Agenda

(azatutyun.am RFE/RL) – The pro-government majority in the National Assembly appeared ready on Monday to accept opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the Armenian government’s recent controversial agreements with Russia’s Gazprom monopoly.

The opposition minority proposed early this month that the Armenian parliament set up an ad hoc commission that would look into the government’s dealings with Gazprom and its broader handling of gas supplies from Russia. The commission would specifically investigate the origin of a $300 million debt to the Russian energy conglomerate which the government claims to have incurred as a result of those subsidies. The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which controls the majority of parliament seats, rejected a corresponding motion put by the country’s four main opposition parties.

In what looked like a U-turn, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian told minority leaders that the HHK is now ready to form a special commission on the gas issue. They did not immediately accept the offer, saying that they need time to discuss it.

It was not immediately clear whether Abrahamian agreed to the kind of inquiry that was sought by the opposition. The latter has denounced the Russian-Armenian energy agreements that were signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 2 visit to Yerevan.

Immediately after the signing of the deal, the government essentially acknowledged that it had kept secret a sharp rise in the cost of Russian gas for Armenia, which came into effect in April 2011. The gas price for Armenian households went up only in July 2013, shortly after a presidential election and municipal polls in Yerevan controversially won by the HHK. This fact sparked opposition claims that the gas subsidies were illegal and politically motivated.

The resulting debt to Gazprom was cleared through the sale of the government’s remaining 20 percent stake in Armenia’s ARG gas distribution network. Gazprom was also granted 30-year exclusive rights in the local energy market.